tv After Words with Eric Fair CSPAN July 30, 2016 10:00pm-11:01pm EDT
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and i just couldn't hang on but once things calm down i want to get back into the teaching environment. >> and would have put it on the spot and ask you about two or three novels that every kid should. >> i think smile is a great one for younger students. my own daughters love it and my daughters connect very well at that book. if you only. one graphic novel ever it should be --. >> gene yang is a national ambassador for young people's literature and the co-author of a new series of looks. the new one is called -- jean, thanks so much. >> thank you so much.
up next on booktv "after words" program former interrogator eric fair discusses his time at sub-- abu ghraib interviewed by sudbury director of national security and human rights first about his book "consequence" a memoir. >> host: eric thanks for sitting down to talk about your book. your book is a war story, story about u.s. and interrogator engaged in difficult circumstances in iraq. it's a story about torture but it's a story about much more than that as well. can you maybe start off by talking about what the story really is about and why you decided to write this book. >> the question is why and this day there still a part of me that wishes i hadn't. the book i wish i could put away
and it's a story that i have to tell that there was obligation today started writing about my experience in iraq and assert with the "washington post" op-ed so i've been at this for nearly 10 years. it's on the same values i have learned in the army but honesty and integrity and to share that regional experience. i wrote an op-ed of 700 are 700 or 800 words so there was obligation to continue to write and lead to more op-ed send logger formats and eventually the creation of this book. host of the op-ed you wrote for the "washington post" give us a flavor for the theme of that and how that will fit into the format. >> guest: i had gone to iraq twice in the last time was 2005. the narrative about what had gone on in the prisons in iraq and other places didn't match up with what i had seen in quite frankly what i have done am i recognized again as a soldier i
had a notation to tell the truth and the southern narrative switched as i saw people who had an isolated incident at abu ghraib that simply hadn't happened the way we thought it did. again we have a duty to speak out so the original op-ed in the post, did not use the word torture. i start with the idea that what were calling enhanced interrogation for tactics that had an impact on me and my own experience that i was struggling with. i felt the discussion was something the american people needed to have. torture is an enhanced interrogation. what i didn't want to do was write a policy that suggests that where these things come from or what might happen. one because i simply didn't know a lot of those things but more
importantly i had to tell my story and explain my role and not to justify them and not even necessarily to condemn them completely or condemn the other people but to be as honest as i possibly could. >> host: so i want to dig more into that as your role as an interrogator at abu ghraib and volusia but before we get there maybe start with your upbringing. one of the things that was interesting for me in this book was how motivated you were by your religious upbringing and growing up in a steel town in pennsylvania so talk a little bit about that in your relationship but that may or may not have had with your decision to go into law enforcement and join the military. >> as you said pennsylvania was an old dying steel town and the traditional presbyterian church which focused on things like humility and being quiet and no large displays of affection or
large displays of appropriation appropriation -- appreciation and what i did then was important. i worked at places like a steel mill and places that it -- as a young boy where he felt protected and safe and people were kind to me and people knew my name then. olbermann called me by my first name are they called me mr. fehr. it was a safe wonderful place and was also a place that instilled important values in me, the idea that our thoughts are to be with the people around us and spend far more energy and far more time focusing on the needs of others. anyway it was a beautiful kind of institution. there were a lot of veterans in that institution as well so the idea that you serve in the military was a strong one.
this was the 1990s by the time i decided to join but as i looked into the military i found many the same things in the military that i had found in church, the idea of taking care of each other in a place of protection that quite frankly did think of others first. the military leaders are often last and the concern is asa by your troops and the people that serve under you and it felt incredibly familiar the way i had grown up. >> host: that's very interesting that you enlisted in the army in 1995 and in the next five years your life in the army, tell us a little bit about that in your experience and how that would shape the forward path for you in your career as you made your way to iraq. >> guest: i talk about feeling protected in the church and it was kind of the thing that i want to do for others. i wanted to protect others. joining the army was for me a means to an end.
i wanted to be a police officer and i had a presbyterian sense of vocational calling so i felt this calling towards law enforcement and the best way to get there was through the military. so i joined, i enlisted in 1995 after four years of college and. >> five years in what was essentially a peacetime army. there were operations in bosnia and kosovo this point it was largely a war in the air the idea that armies would be engaged in large land battles was a thing of the past and the army would be engaged and in ground combat. there were people suggesting that the future war would be fired in the air. i. >> most of my army time in training and i learned arabic in monterey california and i. >> the next three or four years in training exercises in places like tennessee and louisiana and north carolina. when 2000 came around of my list and was up there didn't seem to
be much need for a linguist in the army at that point. i still felt that call to law enforcement so i came back and found a job as a police officer. >> host: want to have you read a passage from your book or it's actually about one of your training exercises in the program. i have it here if you have it. i have it highlighted highlighted for you sophie want to read that and talk about how that is one of the first entry points you had to interrogation which would be the subject of your book. >> guest: as a soldier i had myriad exercises available and one was in a position that i was in. i was part of a team that i would often forward-deployed to the idea that you would be -- captured you are more likely to be captured city could qualify to attend something. >> host: is essentially a
training program to help you deal with even -- and dating -- >> guest: survive, how do you live off the land and evade how do you scape and resist, there is his portion is where you are injected to the interrogation of a foreign entity or a foreign army and escape is when you are able to escape. so this section comes in the middle tier school where we have been trying to evade but you are captured so once captured we are taken to a detention facility. the trainers pretend to be enemy interrogators. they have our personnel files. they know everything about us. they threaten our families by name. might they play loud music. one of the guards of the guard springs and recording of his infant son crying at item plays it over and over and he plays the opening portion of crazy train. we stripped and stand out in the cold. army doctors take our pulse.
during interrogation where promised warm meals and warm beds if we cooperate. we get slapped in shubb. they say everyone breaks down under duress. they tell us torture works, it always has, it always will. just takes time. >> host: a couple of things that are adjusting to me about that, one is its seems to be the first entry point to interrogation of the soldier that would shape your views on interrogation but also later on the book you describe how the training would come to be held out as a valid experience point for you to lead you down the path of being an interrogator in iraq are the other thought i had in reading this section of the book was just now knowing in righteous but that in the cia enhanced interrogation program that essentially those techniques from waterboarding on down were reverse engineered or
must program designed to help our soldiers to resist torture. they were captured by forces so maybe i would invite you to respond to that and any thoughts you have. >> guest: sere seers school reinforce the ideas that we as soldiers are essentially the good guys and we would be captured by the bad guys and this is how we essentially would be treated. and there wasn't a whole lot this year could teach you in terms of what was really going to be like any of it was still a very stressful kind of training environment. you had people that did write down and had difficulty emotionally dealing with it and at the end of seers school you are essentially liberated by a friendly force in the raise the american flag and you play the "star spangled banner" and it's an emotional experience. it reinforces the idea that you are part of sort of this noble
undertaking which was the american military. and so the idea of then, now in the wake of 9/11 there was a lot of talk and dick cheney went on "meet the press" for two days after 9/11 and a large portion of that interview was about things that the dark side in and how we have to work in the shadows and our enemy works in these dark dark places and the only way for us to infiltrate is to join them in this place. i'd like to be able to say i thought that's not who we should be and like many americans quite frankly i was in agreement and others whom i have great respect for thought the same thing. even the interview he didn't confront the vice president and i think it evolve from there. once the administration and wants all of us said it out loud and took it for a test drive,
maybe we could do these things and we didn't object. i am familiar with the idea that the tech geek has navigated from sere school to places like the ca a. and enhanced interrogation program; have any experience with that. i certainly think it could be true but i also know the intention was to work in the shadows. he didn't necessarily need to be, it didn't need to come from the sere school or any outside influence. history is rife with examples on how to torture and the human mind can be incredibly creative. i had a valuable discussion about where those techniques came from but in my own narrative i don't know that it would have mattered if it come from some other place. >> host: i'm curious you leave the army and 2009 and back to
bethlehem and joined the police department. tell us a little bit about how that transition your life from pennsylvania to iraq. >> guest: this idea of a calling has been long force. federal law enforcement agencies but my hometown of bethlehem was one of the first. i found i loved law enforcement and in many ways it was like a ministry preview would engage with people who were in the worst moments of their lives are certainly in a deep moment of crisis where there was a car accident or some kind of health crisis or a dispute or an assault and how do you respond to people at that moment. it could really change the direction that they were going to head in. if you respond with this steady form of compassion and authority they could very quickly calmed down and the situation would
turn out much differently than otherwise but you also knew if you had officers back you up you knew the officers that would come and make it worse by yelling or screaming and some of them quite frankly almost enjoyed getting pulled out. you take someone who is in crisis but i was surrounded the fact that the police officers i worked with were incredibly passionate and it was for me a perfect job. i was eventually diagnosed with a heart condition. perfectly healthy and i'd applied to another federal law enforcement which led to testing ahead of severe cardiomyopathy that instantly ended my law enforcement career. i was devastated to all of those things that i had having been in the military and in that community and law enforcement community being very similar was
suddenly wiped away and there was no way, this was post-9/11. the run-up before the invasion of happen at this point so there was a war in iraq and i had no way to get involved. i couldn't reenlist with a heart condition and at this point as the insurgency started to grow there was a recognition that we did not have soldiers to accomplish the task so contracting company were tasked with filling in the empty spaces and one of those was interrogation peered as a police officer in the soldier was security clearance and language training and ironically enough having been to sere school those were the things that allow the contractor to qualify me in the position of interrogator. the contractors were required to submit paperwork to the army saying here is why this specific individual is qualified. i wanted to get to iraq as quickly as i could.
saddam hussein had been captured in 2003 and we thought the war would end and a number of weeks or months of the wanted to get there quickly and i did. i arrived in january of 2004. >> host: tell us a little bit about the contrast with khaki and maybe also i'm interested in just the role of the contractor in relation to uniform military on the ground in iraq. i was struck by how haphazard the reporting lines of authority were as you describe in the book but at the same time seem very integrated in the sense that it was hard to tell if you were contractor or a member of the military so maybe talk a little bit about for those who may not be as familiar with the role of a contractor. >> guest: i work for contracting company and they are an enormous contractor and had done a lot of work with the army
and they defense department are years mainly in terms of electronic intelligence but like some of the other contractors at the time they were being asked to find this new division within their own company was called human intelligence interrogators soaked the time they were bringing over interrogators and intelligence analysts and i think what they were calling screeners. it would be the prisoners first and pass them on to the interrogators. i remember in basic training the relationship between civilian military and the contractors. basic training we were out raking leaves one day as we often were in the car pulls up at wide directions. we were talking to the civilians and our drill sergeant flying across the grass and screaming at us to get away from the civilians. he didn't want us to have any contact with the outside world but them a watch from a distance as the drill sergeant who have
been horrible to us for the last couple of weeks stood and spoke respectfully to the civilians sir, maam and gave them directions and make sure they knew and help them anyway they could could and it was a shock to us. here was this drill sergeant who we thought ruled the world but suddenly realized in the face of civilians he was kind of an underling and one of values that still into your head from the start of the military is civilian leadership. you learn your chain of command from your platoon leader all the way up to the battalion commander for the top of the command is the photo be president of the united states and he or she is in civilian clothing. a member of the military and united states recognizes civilians essentially are in charge here this was a complication in iraq. civilian contractors of the military viewed us outside of the chain of command and they
weren't sure how to deal with us and they thought they should defer to us but is contractors in the interrogation are prior military most of us and listed so we thought of ourselves in the chain of command if we knew where we would sit whether we been been a sergeant and 95 or 96 or a specialist or even though we were out of uniform all of us still kind of found ourselves acting the way we had before or listening to staff sergeants. it was a bizarre interaction between the two and i'm not sure that anyone even even to the state knows quite exactly how is supposed to go. >> host: you are a contractor, you arrive in baghdad and essentially make your way to the abu ghraib prison. tell us about abu ghraib and maybe the first signs that you have that things weren't quite what they should be.
>> guest: yeah, i am asked this question a lot about first impressions of abu ghraib and i try to think about, remember the image of pulling into the prisoner member who i was standing with what i was wearing but it was the syrian did. it was such a larger complex than i thought. many of us had the impression of and the vast number of prisoners most of whom were an outdoor camps so they were behind her wire. this is not i think what i thought of as interrogation or military interrogation. my image was the images of thousands of iraqi surrendering and then heading back behind enemy lines are the front lines and being processed back to the rear but here we were out in what was essentially one of the most dangerous parts of iraq at the time.
we were essentially halfway between fallujah and halfway between baghdad and mortar rounds came in and this was not my impression of how a prisoner of war camp was run. you didn't interrogate prisoners in a combat zone. he rid removed him from his own for the safety of the interrogators and people working with a more important the safety of -- of prisoners. so in terms of what i knew that something wasn't quite right even before i thought about interrogation most of us were confused by why it had been arranged this way. >> host: you tell an interesting story in your book about receiving these prisoners for interrogation and getting little to nothing about them in terms of intelligence, as far as why they were picked up. oftentimes just the vague phrase , engage in anti-coalition activities. what does does it mean to being
gauged in it. >> guest: most of these prisoners are rounded up by dung infantry soldiers who are given an impossible mission and in most cases they didn't think that they would, the infantry soldiers did not think these guys would be sent back. it was just such a confusing place. they would go to a house where someone had shot at them and round up everyone in the house and denied having done it and i'm sure someone said take them all and then they would move onto their next impossible mission. then they would end up at abu ghraib and we would process them. they would have paperwork but as you mentioned a good number, many of the majority had this phrase a dt nate suspected of anti-coalition activity.
an ied goes off for mortar round comes in and if you run from that you are somehow potentially involved. we had a standing joke that the best way not to be captured in iraq was not to run from the scene of an explosion which you run towards it or stand. it's an impossible task for the guys around there but clearly a break down what was going to happen. they were just being sent back to a safe lace to be held until the end of the conflict which is probably have a thought of it. they were being sent back to prisons where they would gather intelligence from people who the vast majority had no connection. >> host: your job as an interrogators to sit down with the detainees and talk to them and try to figure out what their involvement may or may not have been and coalition activities and you talk about in the book
how the first few weeks are incredibly unfruitful and you sort of have this story about recommending detainees as not being a threat to coalition forces. you get called in by your superior. tell us about that experience. >> guest: is impossible to know and it wasn't suggested there were people at abu ghraib who were part of the insurgency and had access to information that we could get but there were many others who there was simply no way to determine why they were there in the first place or others had been brought in with capture reports. one gentleman in particular this was actually common theme. his son was the suspected of being part of an antic coalition cell but the family won't give up its location so until they do we are taking the father and we talked to the father and he says even if i'm going to give up my son which i'm not how could i possibly know where he is since
i've been here for three months. a lot of these initial reports i would write the prisoner of a dt nate, i use the word detainee because they were prisoners. detainee is not a threat to coalition forces. what that phrase meant was they were to be set for release so all the additional interrogation i recommended these guys annoyingly and i was pulled in and told that this is what was happening. again my connections to this mission and believing in it were so strong that i did want to be the weak guy who is recommending everyone for release. i went on and changed it so even then, they were potential threat to coalition forces. >> host: your interrogation conversational in the
traditional blind of the report of these interrogations, when did the interrogation start to cross the line in your mind and this has been a shifting line for you even as he looked at over the years. i'm curious as to what you saw as being the line and where the interrogation cross the line. >> guest: there weren't discussions and as you mentioned my interrogations were very direct. i spoke arabic. once an iraqi recognize that is that the language, i could hold a long conversation but all around me i was aware that the enhanced techniques which are tortured and i still use the phrase enhanced interrogation by torture is enhanced interrogation but you could hear it in these interrogation
booths. you could hear chairs and tables in a plastic crashing up against the walls. certainly guys were talking about stress positions and sleep deprivation and how long can i do it. when do i have to let them sleep and talk about food and isolation and sensory deprivation. and not behind closed doors. we were huddled together and if somebody walked by it we wouldn't talk about it. so i was well aware that these techniques are being used. it wasn't something i considered that the longer i stayed imprisoned in the more frustrating interrogations became, i was a contractor feeling a part of that mission so i was obligated to try some of these techniques. >> host: you know it's interesting to me that you say you never thought about a line and they lawyers were always thinking about where the lines were and you talked about at one point in the book they talk to you about the line in your field
manual interrogations standards and then you talked about folks joking about barracks lawyers. tell us a little bit about that. >> guest: everyone who were the uniform will understand this there were types of soldiers that we call barracks lawyers who had sealed manuals. there was a field manual for everything in the military and putting your weapon and including putting your uniform on the right way or the humvee or the helicopter. they were called motor pool mondays never when the unit would go out of check the humvee and check the air in the tires and the oil levels. there was a specific way to do that. if you went out and started by checking the oil but you didn't warm up for five or 10 minutes or was someone there a field manual in hand to say we all
hated them. it just wasn't the way that the army work. so this discussion of abu ghraib and the army field manual the vast majority of us, we don't operate by the field manual. we operate by getting a mission accomplished and doing essentially what we are told them what is necessary. while there were some discussions about recognizing that there are -- the field manual sets up certain tears in which you are cleaning information there was also discussion that you need to be creative. there's a story of hans sharp the interrogator who had been successful through her poor building techniques but the message was again the message was that we need information and you need to essentially find a way.
i'm not going to sit here and say that i was ordered directly to use a stress position or sleep deprivation. these are my mistakes and i own them but i also, this was not isolation i was not alone was. this is what we thought we were supposed to do. >> host: there were clearly pressures to get information and get facts. i'm just wondering was there ever a conversation about these techniques are out of bounds or they cross the line and you know was that in the consciousness? disco yes go there were absolute conversations between interrogators. i remember specific conversation one of the things you were not allowed to do was threaten the life of a prisoner. you could not say if you'd don't talk you will -- but there were discussions about can i do things that would frighten the prisoner or that would make the
prisoner of afraid for his life without saying directly, could i say to them if you don't quite break with us were going to send it to egypt or send you to a country where they know he may be executed so the message being if you don't quite break with us we will send you. we absolutely were thinking within this world and enhanced interrogation we talk about lines, not necessarily lines but we were thinking about limits and maybe it's the same thing and maybe it isn't that there were absolute discussions. it's not as if it was open season and he could do anything you wanted. in retrospect we know there were places for interrogation that were open and i'd like to thank things like waterboarding were something called the disco rooms which had been were ported blinding lights and the use of dogs and people being put on
pipes and burn. and like to say at that point i would say no but because of my own actions and because the war ended up going in terms of things like sleep deprivation sends stress positions i don't know if i would have been able to stand up and say it. >> host: at abu ghraib you tell the story about being pulled out the middle of the night. tell us about that and how unix. stay. >> the vast majority of visitors were held in other camps but it was a basic prison facility inside of abu ghraib. it was where the higher value targets were capped. people that hired saddam's regime or were suspected of knowing something about chemical weapons and still thinking there were chemical weapons in iraq. as an arabic linguist with my high-level security clearances that i had in the army and my law enforcement experience i
thought of that as an asset someone who couldn't assist in interrogation. for many interrogators it was difficult to hold a conversation with the translator. the translator spoke a different dialect. over here these conversations and we would say yes he's getting this right or know he misses so my introduction was essentially to overhear the translators. when i got in there i saw something that kind of changed the way i thought about what we were doing. i think and i come to this all the time. certainly walking in i knew that i was now involved with something that i was going to spend probably the rest of my life dealing with. not thinking again not relating anything or going too far but seeing them ample men did was more troubling.
it was cold called, was december in the image of a number of then chained to their cell doors with their hands down between her legs which was forced standing which is an enhanced technique and donald rumsfeld at some point said sitting at his desk all day, i can tell you you someone seeing singing up for standing position is nothing to do with a standing desk. it was torture. again at the time it was very hard to come to grips with the fact that i was involved with this and i did want to violate the trust that i had with my friends but certainly now after these years there's no way to deny that what was going on was torture. >> host: you are eventually in fallujah where you see some of the worst abuses happened. i want to and within interrogation that you witnessed in fallujah, what i think was
the mayor of fallujah at that time and -- >> guest: at prisoner had been brought in and he claimed to be the mayor of fallujah. it turned out that in fact he was the mayor of fallujah and he had been involved in an attack on the local police department in which a number of police officers were murdered so there was some suspicion that he had somehow facilitated this attack or smuggled in uniforms. i interrogated him and initially it was very direct interrogation he was passed on to another interrogator who plays him in this palestinian chair and where the name came from there were rumors that these army interrogators have been trained in israel and i don't know if that's true and it doesn't matter.
we as americans did this and we needed to be sure we were focusing on what we did as a nation. so while he was being interrogated in this chair i happened to walk i. the door to the room, flimsy sheet of plywood had blown open in the hot desert wind. inside his hands are tied to his ankles and the chair forces him to leave -- len leave -- leaned forward and forcing all of his weight on his thighs as if he had been trapped in the position of nailing down to pray. he is blindfolded. his head this collapse into his chest. wheezes and gasps for air. there's a pool of at his feet. he moans. too tired to cry but in too much pain to remain silent. >> host: is probably an incredibly horrifying scene. one of the things is how so much
of the public conversation around torture locus is on the waterboarding technique which is that you know basically strapping someone onto a board of forcing water into their lungs creating the actual experience of drowning, very painful technique. the stress position, sleep deprivation, you put that in the category of torture as well and i guess my question to you is, is there a psychological component to clear physical pain that is described in the stress position and is that what informs your view of torture? >> guest: the psychological component is the only component. the physical nature of torture is just to get you to that psychological point. you don't ever have to lay a hand on a person to torture them.
we can talk about that in sleep deprivation but in terms of the chair fallujah was an incredibly violent place in which people were brought in who had done horrific things that even i was at times tempted to put someone in the chair and use it but i knew, did seems strange that there was a alarm bell for me so i thought i should try the chair another interrogator greeted me so we strap each other and to the chair and the pain was hearing and it was incredibly, well that's enough. there was searing pain but what mattered more was the fear of knowing that you wouldn't be able to get away from that pain and you weren't sure how much worse the pain could get. you had no control and so within a minute or two both of the said get me out of this thing. certainly it hurt but it was
that momentary sense that if my friend is not standing there ready to take me out of this thing when i'm done and i don't know where i'm going, don't know what's coming and it's incredibly frightening and i know having seen the mayor of fallujah in this chair clearly he was in pain and clearly he was in discomfort but there is a sense of all was going on in his head and what was being created was what constituted torture. i can speak about my own. i did not use the chair. i think that makes me complicit in its use but i showed up were in interrogation one night and was asked to participate in the sleep deprivation. another interrogator and wanted -- so i went into his cell and stripped him and i realized it was an assault on this individual.
that is when my involvement in any interrogation ended. there has been a lot of talk of sleep deprivation or the thought of going through law school or basic training is a form of sleep deprivation that's just insane. it's ridiculous. sleep deprivation can be accomplished in a matter of hours. put them in a room with no windows and let them sleep for an hour to wake them up. they have no idea how long they have been sleep in. within a matter of three or four hours that individual has no idea how long they have been alive. it may be four or five days when in fact it's only been four or five hours that they lose all control and they recognize that no longer have control of their lives and instantly you strip them of hope. that is sleep deprivation. you don't need weeks or months. you just need a few hours to torture someone. >> host: one thing beyond the discussions of this i've always
been a just and talking to interrogators is the idea that creating this sense of confusion and disorientation and instructing the brain functions this way, how can that be the best way to gather information from someone? it's interesting to me that you don't go out into the efficacy of torture in this book. clearly his work in some circumstances and not another city of talk about some examples where successful interrogations just having cake with a guy in this book but what is the public conversation around torture so focused on whether works or not and why do you sort of derived that narrative in your book? >> guest: they are two different things there.
the reason the public is so enamored by torture and i know this because i believe this because the world is so frightening and so scary and because of the things we face now scare us there's a loss of a sense of control. the very same thing you do to prisoner to cause them to lose control. this enemy out here is not worse than any other. there is a deep brutality of war so i think the idea that you can force control on this person and force them to essentially cooperate is comforting in some ways because now you suddenly regain control so instead of accepting that the world is so complicated and values by compassion and humanity won't fix fix it fix it, you resort ts like torture to this person is bad. they have information. i will control them and i will
get the information and now i'm safe. i don't mean to be demeaning when i say because i've been there and i felt bad and that is what i thought but what we lack is a voice that says the effectiveness of the technique and the ability control another person is nothing to do with who we are as a nation. if that's all we are, if all we are as a nation that says whatever is the best way to get this done just do it then we have lost our way. we have lost things like the constitution and bill of rights. as a soldier i did not swear an oath. i did not swear an oath to protect the homeland or to protect the citizens of the united states. i swear an oath to the constitution. i swore an oath and i happen others in uniform have an absolute obligation two stay with the values of the constitution issue like enhanced interrogation violates that in
the worst way possible. i am as guilty as anyone giving into that fear of some of these horrifying attacks but we absolutely need to do better. >> host: it occurred to me reading your book as you go through abu ghraib, fallujah and these abusive interrogations that your faith is tested and carries through this entire period of time and though you come out later to talk about this as a retrospective exercise unit was wrong at the time. i guess the natural question is why did you do it and why didn't you extract yourself from that situation? >> guest: we talked earlier about how similar the church and the army can be in the same kinds of values that i found in the church were the same sorts of values that i had in the army.
the army is an attractive organization in general so is very difficult to extract myself and recognized what i was doing was violating my own faith so i was able to say yes well i see these things as the sin and i see them as morally wrong i might still have an application to be a part of it. for anyone who has served in uniform it sounds almost ridiculous and ludicrous. that's what we do when we put on the uniform. we become something bigger than ourselves. that can mean a lot of different things but for me it meant that even though there was this poll for something like my faith or family values that have been taught and things that i had learned when i was younger even with the police department, i had to in some ways separate myself from most things because this was what we were doing prosecute the war. processing that as i recognize
there was a horrible moral failure on my part and the part of the people they're worth with me in doing these things. the other question i often am asked is why did i quit right away? your contractor and you could have quit at any point. again the poll towards that community was so strong and the idea that you quit that committee was kind of revolting. we worked as hard as it possibly could to justify what we were doing. once i got home, in terms of being able to say that this was okay and i can move on i simply couldn't do it. plus who you resorted to drinking and you were literally on your deathbed. you ended up getting a heart transplant. talk about that experience and how that may have factored into
it or not to go public. guess of a condition was certainly was spurred on the -- i would have stayed with the police department or stayed with law enforcement. i was never would have gone to iraq. an alcoholic and i'm careful in the book because this is not an addiction, book about addiction and their excellent books about that subject that speaks far more eloquently than i do so i don't want it to be a distraction in terms of how i dealt with alcohol. and anyone recovering from trauma finds self-medicating ever made with alcohol. the heart condition continued to worsen and as cardiologists had told me it would i simply face my death bed. at this point i had started writing about iraq but there is no denying that i'm aware, i was
aware that and i'm aware now that the clock was ticking for me even as a transplant recipient as healthy as i am now retirement was essentially ruled out. so yes there is an extra sense, maybe two hurry up and be as honest as i can about these things. >> host: you are pretty careful in your book to avoid politics in the larger policy debate. a very personal story about your experience in life, but you came to d.c. last year and worked with us to lobby on an anti-torture measure passed in congress and have responded to some of the comments that were made in the presence of campaign about returning to waterboarding and so-called interrogation techniques. talk about how that process has
factored into your thinking about your life story and why. it's going to since when i wrote the first op-ed in the "washington post" that my colleagues, all of mike colleagues may not respond well. i did think that some would support me and be behind me but essentially all of them broke contact with me and i haven't heard from many of them since. that was a difficult thing and suddenly i was very isolated and there were people that essentially said you were doing the right thing here. i absolutely felt like i violated a trust and i have broke and bonds and even today i still feel like it. a few years later the organization did reach out to me and say we are gathering be sent professional interrogators to speak about issues. would you be interested and i responded by saying i don't think that's a good idea. i don't think professional
interrogators, don't think they're going to want me around. i think my voice is valuable on my own and i have an obligation and the organization did come down and i was welcomed with open arms. it was an eye-opener for me. it is not a conservative or liberal issue or republican or democrat because they're people from all sides of the aisle and all different places within the intelligence community that were speaking out strongly against these practices. i remember sitting down with lieutenant general sorensen who had been the director of the defense intelligence agency and being incredibly intimidated knowing what i'd done and here i am sitting across the dinner table. he was gracious enough to spend an hour to speak to me as a friend and showed affection and support for what i had done. no condemnation. there were questions about how
this happened but i was essentially part of the group so i was reintroduced into the bond that was reformed and i still miss what i had and i will miss the close friends i had and they were all very good people and organizations recognize i'm not alone voice and a lot of people feel very strongly about this. >> host: senator mccain said this is not about who they are comments about who we are and one of the kind of narratives that i think is -- that reflects that is this idea that not only did we haven't entitled all impact on individuals we hold in custody who will suffer psychologically, physically for the rest of their lives but it also, what does it mean for the soldiers and a others who are
working with the government when we asked our own to do this, to engage in torture? what kind of impact will that have on our values and friends and family members who will come back for more? that is what your book is about. i do want to ask about and this may not be the most comfortable subject but i'm curious what you think about it and if you've had a chance to talk to some of these detainees that you have interacted with, prisoners in iraq who were subjected to these forms of the abuse. what would you say to them? >> it's incredibly important incredibly difficult question and i've process that often. i think the best answer is it would be obscene for me to make any suggestion as to what i would want to come out of that or how i would approach it if
something like that were ever to happen and i went in any other way than just quiet and open. it would essentially be another violation of that person. i don't know that will ever happen and i'm not suggesting that i wanted to were suggesting that they want to. there have been moments in past history where similar types of meetings have taken place but with the worst of raging in iraq and it is still going on in afghanistan i don't know that any of us have reached that point yet. it would you offensive for me to suggest that i would have that kind of meeting. >> host: what do you think about suggestions from policymakers and politicians that we should return to waterboarding is one of the themes the argument for hands interrogation is this idea that
isis and these other groups wouldn't hesitate to chop off heads and we are tying our hands and our ability to respond if we don't resort to the next. it's a very prominent in the presidential campaign but among a good portion of the mac in public. how would you respond? >> guest: we talk about the donald trump statement by donald trump, i have been there. i know they come from a place of fear and i think what we could have used as a voice that it simply doesn't matter. ivan eighty-year-old son and he comes out from school and i think these are strong american values but he comes home with a bad grade or a bad report was not behaving well he says that it doesn't matter because everyone else did worse on the test. it was hard at everyone failed
or he comes home with bad behavior. kids were doing far worse than me. i was just talking during class not fighting. i wouldn't say to him as long as you aren't as bad as they are and continue on. again i would say i don't care what your classmates do. i don't care that they're not doing well. i care about the way you are representing yourself in the way you are interacting and the way you are performing. these are the same kind of values instilled in me. i was not allowed to make excuses and maybe that seems an impotent analogy but i think it holds true. how could it possibly matter what our enemies or other organizations are doing? if that's your only standard we have come as long as we are not them as long as we are not doing this, that falls so short as a nation that i grew up in. we are a country watching the
first gulf war and one of the images that sticks with me are the thousands of iraqi's running towards american troops and the idea that they knew quite frankly that they would be treated better in american custody then the way they were being treated by their own units the i.d. of the rental country for safety. that's the message we should send to organizations like i suspect yes if we capture you or if you surrender to us we may imprison you but you will be treated humanely and we will take care of you. if you want to cooperate that's fine and whether they do or not i don't think that matters in torture. >> that resonated with me a lot and one of the frustrating things in my perspective has been as military leaders we boys been opposed to this enduring the bush administration techniques are being proposed
out the rice and there was an insurgency within the military to try to stop this. it's really been folks frankly hook not have a lot of interrogation experience and been leaders in the military who are pushing this interrogation agenda and we worked with a group of retired generals and admirals. it's a message that hasn't gotten out there enough and the hope is this conversation continues among the american people and we will realize this is a mistake. you are post-heart transplant now. your wife karen has been by your side and you say you have an 8-year-old boy. what is next for you in terms of your conversation on torture in your experience? >> guest: i am absolutely a torture and someone who finds it
difficult to talk about these things but i'm also a heart transplant recipient. the idea that question is a recurring one what is next and i don't know right now what is next. i still feel obligated to little league. we have practice on friday and seeing karen tonight when i drive home and those are things that i think i need to focus on bialso need to recognize that this book does not end the chapter 4 me and it doesn't allow me to say that i was a torture through diet now close that a moved on. the important part of the book like this is that identifies me as someone who is a torturer and who is able to do these things in the past and if i'm not careful moving forward and not listening to voices and surrounding myself with the right people that i'm capable of falling into these things again. i think as a nation we cannot think we did this and now we are okay